TEXT poetry


Peter Kirkpatrick



Dream Jobs


i. L’inconscient est structuré comme une dissertation

So I’m at a conference with box after box
of ancient papers, cuttings, photographs –
belongings lost to thought like those outmoded,
broken ornaments that filled both cupboards
of my late mother’s garage – and I’m keen,
as the keynote, to get my peers to care,
only they’re all distracted, licking choc-tops.

Whereupon I empty soup – could be porridge –
into the biggest box and, with a Bamix,
start stirring the contents into gluey shards.
Now what might all this mean? I’d like you students
to write 2,000 words of close analysis;
cover sheets located where you submit.


ii. Il n’y a pas de service en dehors du texte

So it’s the Princes Highway at St Peters
– or not – and I’m off to a cocktail party
while hauling Napoleon’s metre-long coffin
(I got him from a costume-hire company)
over a footpath lost in undergrowth.
And, while I slowly push, a cane toad pulls,
puzzled at being harnessed; pissed off, too.

It knows there’s an Ikea down the road:
why couldn’t I buy a fucking gun carriage?
And how come Boney’s so immensely heavy?
Insisting that I have major issues with
authority, the toad yells, Really, is this
any way to treat the Emperor of the French?






The scene’s historical: I’m twenty-one
and Professor H.J. Oliver,
as personable as his initials,
strides in like Gulliver
among us little people
to ask with an immobile
smirk What STC might stand for? Hit the pause button.

Three of us: me, and Pat and Evan Johnstone,
in our final year of English Honours
– three last dogged survivors –
are now testing our mettle
as potential bibliographers.
(And here a footnote: there was
no Sydney Theatre Company way back then.)

I’m game, I’m cocky, I’m an only son,
so I pipe up Samuel
Taylor Coleridge? Signal
the Laughing Professor’s
regurgitative chuckle:
Well, well! Oh wonder-ful!
I’ve heard a student venture Sydney Turf Club on one

memorable occasion,
but Samuel Taylor,
(chortle) Coleridge, never!
Mr Kirkpatrick, I’ll tell
you exactly what those initials
stand for. It’s Short Title
Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland
and of English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640.

And from another century I now say:




Peter Kirkpatrick teaches Australian Literature in the Department of English at the University of Sydney. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Wish You Were Here (Five Islands Press, 1996) and Westering (Puncher & Wattmann, 2006), and the chapbook, Australian Gothic and Other Poems (Picaro Press, 2012).


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Vol 18 No 2 October 2014
General Editor: Nigel Krauth. Editors: Kevin Brophy, Enza Gandolfo & Linda Weste
Creative works editor: Anthony Lawrence